Humidity in the home

January 20, 2014

Left unchecked high humidity can make an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, mold and fungi. Nobody wants that in a business or in their home.  Twenty years of HVAC experience lead to a very advanced humidity control protocol at Infinity Mixed Martial Arts to remove all the moisture after an evening of classes.  The humidity protocol in our home is far simpler but no less important to our health.  Most people don’t realize what the correct humidity can do to improve their quality of life but anyone with a respiratory illness will attest that humidity control is extremely important.

 

Humidity is both a blessing and a problem.  Too little humidity and your hardwood floors and furniture crack and squeak, your nose itches, asthmatics suffer.  Too much humidity and you get mold (fungi), dust mites and chemical interactions with the products in our homes.  Who hasn’t heard a horror story of black mold in a former grow-op home from the high heat and humidity?  In our climate it is fairly rare but not unheard of to have a home with too little humidity; Homes where the forced air furnace fan runs 24/7 without control can have this problem. This article will deal with lowering humidity but a de-humidistat as shown below, hooked to that constantly running furnace, may solve issues of low humidity as well.

 

 

Homes with many people, homes where the bathroom fans are inadequate, homes where all the windows are closed up tight all the time, homes with very little air circulation can have issues with high humidity.  Without using a gauge you can often still tell the humidity is high if there is water in the windows or mold on the window frames, the hard floors and hard surfaces feel damp, doors don’t fit well and stick plus hard-wood floors can buckle.

Note that windows and window frames, behind blinds that are always closed, can have humidity issues without the rest of the house having high humidity.  If this is the case in your home try tilting the blinds inward towards you and leaving them open a few millimeters, this allows warm air to rise through the blinds and the current will dry the window.  Blinds tilted away from you, whether open a little or not, do not allow the natural heat rise current between them.

 

Oddly we also often find homes left too cool have too much humidity.  One client left the house at 64F all the time and she couldn’t lower the humidity with the bathroom fans.  Once we heated the home up to 70F for a week the humidity evaporated into the air and was allowed to escape via bath fan.  This doesn’t mean she can’t turn the furnace down at night, it simply means the house needs air warm enough, for a long enough time, to evaporate and remove humidity.

 

Do you have a de-humidistat? or ever wondered what this thing is on your wall and what it does?  When you turn the dial you should hear an audible ‘click’ and then perhaps a faint fan noise somewhere in your home.

This ‘click’ point will give a good approximation of the current relative humidity in your home at the location of the dial.  You can see the word ‘off’ is at the high end of the humidity scale and the word ‘on’ is at the lower end of the numbers.  Therefore this dial turns something on if you want the humidity lower and turns it off if you want the humidity to get or remain higher.

 

 

In most homes this dial will turn on the fan in the shared bathroom at the highest point in your home.  In some homes it will turn on the forced air furnace circulation fan too.  If nothing happens when you turn the dial, check to see if the bath fan is already on because the bathroom was recently in use. Unfortunately in some homes it has simply been disconnected and no longer does anything.

 

Chances are if your house was built in the last 30 years you have a de-humidistat like this somewhere, from 1981 to 2007 a de-humidistat was standard in most homes and jurisdictions. If you have one of these do yourself a favour, set it for 45% and leave it alone.  If after two weeks the fan is still running check the dial to see how close you are to the set point, I will bet your humidity has dropped and you are fairly close.

 

Our home, though only 4 years old does, not contain a de-humidistat.  Even though we hang dry many of our clothes in the hallway our humidity sits at a fairly constant 46%.  How?  Three things; firstly there are always a MINIMUM of two windows open, to the ventilation stop, on our top floor;  Secondly one bath fan is always left on; thirdly our furnace fan is set to circulate 10 minutes of every hour.  The only exception to these settings is when an Arctic outflow drops the temperature and the humidity so low everybody suffers.

 

Ideal range is 45% to 50% for most people.  This seems to also be the recommendation from the major HVAC suppliers and health Canada, who widen that to 30% to 55%.  All agree though that anything over 55% is hazardous.

 

We hope this information has been of some help to you and wish you well.  Please do not hesitate to contact me at 778 809 4662 with HVAC and construction related Real Estate questions or call Johanna at 778 549 7972 for current market conditions and reports.  We are always here to help.

 

Clay Martin

Professional Realtor
Royal Lepage Wolstencroft Realty